The media is awash in stories about standardized test score increases in Washington, D.C.

As I’ve repeatedly said, I think test scores are useful small parts of a school culture that should be data-informed, not data-driven.

The most important part of The Washington Post story on the test scores, though, was buried near the end. Here it is:

Some experts cautioned that standardized testing doesn’t always tell the whole story. Bob Schaeffer of FairTest said it would be inappropriate to attach much importance to single-year gains. He said scores fluctuate and can reflect demographic changes in schools instead of changes in teaching and learning.

“The exclusive focus on test scores as the measure of educational quality should be replaced with the use of multiple performance measures including rates of graduation, college attendance, post-school employment, criminal justice system involvement, etc.,” Schaeffer said in an e-mail.

Sam Chaltain, a journalist who is working on a book about school choice in the city and who is the parent of D.C. charter school students, was similarly skeptical.

“We use test scores as a proxy to make it seem like we actually know whether schools are succeeding or failing,” Chaltain said, adding that the rise in scores in the District leaves much unknown. “We don’t know if kids feel more engaged and motivated. We don’t know if teachers feel more supported and prepared to do their jobs well. We don’t know if families are more or less likely to stay in the system.”

Yup, it’s a legitimate way of saying it’s the metric, not the school. Where did I hear that expression before?

I’m adding this post to both The Best Articles Describing Alternatives To High-Stakes Testing and to The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad).